In Chinese medicine, the concept of Qi is used both in the diagnosis and in treatment. A basic principle of Chinese medicine is that you have to re balance the Qi before you can cure the root of a disease. Only then can you also repair the physical damage and rebuild your physical strength and health. This theory is very simple. Your entire body is made up of living cells. When these cells receive the proper Qi supply, they will function normally and even repair themselves. However, if the Qi supply is abnormal and this condition persists, then even though the cells were originally healthy, they will become damaged or changed (perhaps even becoming cancerous). In light of this basic Qi theory, let us first discuss why Qigong can be effective in curing back pain.
Why Qigong is Effective for Back Pain
1. Qigong Maintains and Increases Smooth Qi Circulation.
As mentioned earlier, the goal of Qigong healing is to re-establish a strong, smooth flow of Qi through the affected area. When this happens, physical damage can be repaired and strength rebuilt. Chinese physicians have always believed that as long as you are alive, physical damage to the body can be repaired through improving the Qi and blood circulation.
2. Qigong Strengthens the Physical and Mental Bodies.
The greatest benefit of Chinese Qigong is probably in the physical (Yang) and mental (Yin) training. Qigong teaches you how to regulate the mind to a calm, profound and concentrated meditative state. It also teaches you how to use your regulated mind in coordination with deep breathing to lead the Qi circulating in your body. From this internal guidance and coordination with specific Qigong movements, you can either heal yourself or rebuild the strength of your physical body. From the Yin (mental body) and Yang (physical body) balance, you regain your health.
3. Qigong Strengthens the Immune and Hormone Production Systems.
Western science knows that the body's immune system is closely related to the endocrine glands, which produce hormones. Hormones, as they are now understood, do not actually create processes. What they do, however, is cause the fundamental processes such as growth, reproduction and sex to speed up or slow down. They also strengthen the ability of the immune system to fight diseases. For example, it is believed that the thymus gland (which is located just behind the top of the sternum) plays an important role in the body's immune system. Chinese Qigong practitioners believe that if a sick person can lead Qi to the brain through concentration or through strong desire, he or she can evoke a powerful healing force. A possible explanation is that the stronger Qi flow activates the pineal and pituitary glands in the brain so that they generate more hormones. We now know that the most important function of the pituitary gland is to stimulate, regulate and coordinate the functions of the other endocrine glands. For this reason it is sometimes called the master gland.
In Chinese Qi gong, the Upper Dan Ti an (which some Westerners refer to as the third eye) is considered the center of your whole being. If you raise your spirit, which resides there, you can energize your body, manifest amazing physical and mental strength, and recover more quickly from injury or sickness. Certain groups in the West have also recognized its importance as the center of the spirit, and consider it a third eye, which is able to sense further than the physical eyes can see. If we combine the understanding of old and new, East and West, we can conclude that what actually happens, probably because of mental concentration, is that a stronger current of bio-electricity is led to the pineal and pituitary glands to activate the production of hormones. This stimulates the entire endocrine system and causes it to function more effectively, improving healing, cellular regeneration, reproduction and growth.
4. Qigong Raises the Spirit of Vitality
The spirit is closely tied to the mind, and cannot be separated from it. In Qigong practice, the mind is considered the general in the battle against sickness. When the mind (general) has a strong will, thoroughly understands the battlefield (the body), wisely and carefully sets up the strategy (the breathing technique), and effectively and efficiently manages the soldiers (the Qi), then the morale (spirit) of the general and soldiers can be high. When this happens, sickness can be conquered and health regained.
You can see that Chinese Qigong heals by going to the root of the problem. It improves the entire body, both mentally and physically, and strengthens the immune system. Only when this is done will the illness be healed completely.
Dr. Yang has been involved in Chinese Gongfu since 1961 and has more than thirty years of instructional experience. Dr. Yang has published twenty-four books and twenty-eight videotapes on the martial arts and Qigong. Currently he is president of Yang's Oriental Arts Association, Boston, MA.